Music fans have been given a rare chance to listen to candid interviews with Sir Paul McCartney, Yoko Ono, Ray Charles and Tony Bennett online after they were donated to America's Library of Congress earlier this year (12).

Record label executive Joe Smith, who signed acts such as the Grateful Dead and the Eagles, amassed a vast collection of chats with more than 200 musicians about their lives and most closely-guarded secrets over the years, and he generously handed them over to the cultural preservation centre in Washington, D.C. in June (12).

Now the unedited interviews are being made available to the public to stream for free via the Library of Congress' website.

In one conversation with John Lennon's widow Ono in 1988, she said of the Beatles' split, "For John, it was a divorce. I think he was feeling very good about it, as if a big weight was off him...

"Paul was the only one trying to hold The Beatles together. But, then again, the other three felt that Paul was trying to hold The Beatles together as His band. They were getting to be like Paul's band, which they didn't like... There was an incredible period of unpleasantness for John, so he was in fact delighted that he was out of it..."

Rock icons Sir Mick Jagger, Bo Diddley, David Bowie and B.B. King were also interviewed by Smith.